Your Choices Determine Your Health


One of the things I’m working on this year is to be more observant. Yesterday I was at Infusion and what I observed was: staff eating fast food (junk food) from Wendy’s, drinking Cokes and snacking on endless amounts of Red Vines and chocolates. Actually this ain’t new but it really got me to thinking. I mean we are in a cancer ward. Are these women really that disconnected as to how these patients got sick in the first place? Do they think getting cancer is just “bad luck, bad genes, or some mystery disease?”

I admit, I wasn’t eating great before I got cancer. I thought I was. I was vegetarian! But the main thing missing from my diet was the vegetables! One of my strengths (which also gets me into trouble) is speaking my mind; calling people on their own bullshit, but I am working on being observant this year and that means keeping my opinions to myself — but that doesn’t mean I won’t write about it.

The funny thing is a couple of these women whom I work with complain they can’t seem to lose weight. They don’t like the way they look, so they go on some ridiculous diet; like adding chia seeds to their bottled water, convincing themselves this will achieve their goal. Are they serious? Diets do not work! There are no magic pills! The only thing that works is a lifestyle change; a change in attitude and self-discipline.

Last year I did tell them that, but one got mad and the other shrugged it off, “You and your GMOs.”

Am I sometimes tempted to eat a french fry, drink a Coco Cola, eat candy? Hell yes! But I stop myself because I know it will make me sick; maybe not right that second but eventually eating that crap will catch up with me and the next thing I know I’ll be back in that chemo treatment chair. I also know my health is my responsibility. What I put in my mouth is my responsibility. My choices determine my health.

I just don’t get it that these women can’t see it. Statistically, 1 in 3 women will get cancer sometime in their lifetime. That’s 30% of the women in Infusion; only a small percent will be from genetics, the rest is environmental and life choices. I hope they wake up before its too late.

Be Well!

An Open Letter to Healthcare Providers (Specifically MDs)


Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always – Hippocrates


Dear Doctor,

We patients come to you looking for answers as to why we feel sick.  Waiting to see you in a small exam room, wearing only a paper gown, with our legs dangling off the exam table is intimidating in itself.  Most of us see you as an authority figure; you are the one wearing a lab coat with several medical degrees hanging on the wall in your office. You must know what’s best for us.  Be aware that your attitude, sets the tone of how well your patient will respond to treatment or even recover. Your words are powerful, so be careful what you say.

Telling a patient “they are a complicated case” doesn’t help him or her. The patient is already “freaked out” knowing they have a disease (like cancer) that could kill them. The last thing your patient wants to hear is that their disease is complicated. It gives them the idea, you have no idea what you are doing and maybe you don’t. If their disease is too much for you to treat, how about referring them to someone else; telling your patient you want a second opinion, so you can come up with a plan. I have met a few of you over the course of my adult life, who bristled when I questioned your diagnosis or asked for a less toxic way to treat me. I left feeling as though my thoughts didn’t count so I never went back.

Patients have told me too many times that their doctor or nurse practitioner gave them “bad news” with a cold indifferent attitude. Some were angry over it but most were distraught. I remember the day I was told I had cancer; it was right after I was rolled out of the colonoscopy room. I was groggy from the test and some woman, who I never met or have seen since, told me matter-of-factly, “Mrs. Scott, you have rectal cancer,” and immediately walked away. No emotion. No empathy and definitely no tact. Luckily for me, I’m a tough broad. My response was, “rectal cancer my ass.”

Since I already knew I was very sick, I didn’t need to be reminded by my medical team when I came to see them how sick I actually was. I knew my chances of survival was slim but my team never acted that way toward me and they never made promises they couldn’t keep. They told me they would do their very best to get me well, and isn’t that all we can ask for? For them to do their best?

Studies have shown that a patient’s attitude is as important as taking medications. A positive (hopeful) outlook helps fight the disease. Stress lowers the immune system and having a doctor with a bad attitude will stress anyone out. So stop with the bad attitude already.

If you, dear doctor tell someone they are a hopeless case, you have already sealed their fate. In their mind they are a “dead man walking” which might not be true. These days there are too many allopathic and holistic treatments that can either cure a sick person or help them manage their disease and maintain a good quality of life. The hospital I volunteer at has many examples of “cured” patients that came from other hospitals and doctors who told them they were hopeless cases. Not all hospitals are privy to the same medicines and neither are all doctors. Just because you can’t help someone doesn’t mean another doctor can’t either. Many times they can.

When we get sick our whole body/mind/spirit need treatment. Our entire being is sick not just one part. It’s important for you dear doctor to understand that.  Patients have access to much more information these days and many like me, go online to research different treatments. We see ourselves as a member of our wellness team; actually no, we are the captain of our wellness team. We don’t just want to be told what to do, we want to be part of the decision-making process.

But before any of that happens it starts with the first time we meet you. Your attitude sets the tone as to how our relationship will be, so even if its bad news, please say your words “sweetly.”  It will be easier for us to swallow.



My B12 is Too Low


It’s been four years this month since I became vegan. Since I was already vegetarian for several years, it wasn’t a hard transition to make. My doctors knew about my diet change so they added B12 to my list of blood work “issues” to watch out for. About two years ago my oncologist noticed my B12 levels dropping, so every month since then I get a B12 shot.

I never really gave much thought of how important this vitamin is or even what it actually does; that is until my last checkup a few days ago. My oncologist said my blood work looked great (yay!) except my B12 was much too low, so starting next week I will get a shot every day and then once a week for a month and then back to monthly.

For the last several weeks I have been feeling sleepy around 7pm everyday; I just thought I was having a hard time adjusting to the time change (even though that happened four months ago) but maybe it is my lack of B12. I decided to learn more about the importance of this vitamin and here is what I found: Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and megaloblastic anemia. Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur. Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include problems with balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue. Vitamin B12 deficiency can damage the nervous system even in people who don’t have anemia, so it is important to treat a deficiency as soon as possible.

It went on to explain that people over the age of fifty can be deficient because their bodies might not absorb vitamins as well and since I am barely fifty (ahem), that could be another reason why I’m “low.”

I don’t eat meat (which is where most people get their B12; from the animal protein) but I thought I was getting enough protein from other sources; like nut butters and beans– apparently my blood disagrees. There is so much information floating around the Web it can be mind-boggling when it comes to which information I can believe. Some say all foods contain protein, even vegetables, so I went along with that theory. The majority of foods I eat are 70% raw, consisting of vegetables and fruits. I purposely stayed away from soy products because I read that too much soy isn’t good for me. Yesterday I read that vegans can get B12 from eating foods “fortified with vitamins”, but in my mind, fortified meant “made in a lab” and that doesn’t sound healthy to me. In fact, I believe eating foods made with artificial ingredients (chemicals) gave me cancer in the first place. Why would I take a chance on getting that again! But in order to heal myself, I decided to be open to the idea.

burgerSeveral months ago I was at a “Green Fair” and tried some samples of different soy products; one of them was from a company called Gardein, which makes a healthy GMO free vegan burger, that tasted pretty good. I even bought a package and made some delicious dinners from them, but after they were gone I went back to eating only “greens.” After reading the nutrient contents on some of the soy products at the grocery store yesterday, I decided to expand my food repertoire. Eating organic soy protein a few times a week and adding soy milk to my smoothies shouldn’t hurt. I also found a B complex that is vegan.

I will remain vegan because the diet works for me but I learned to be more flexible and add more soy protein. I think the key to health is balance and that includes eating a balanced diet. Hopefully adding soy protein and taking a B complex daily will eventually lead to me not having to have a B12 shot.

I will keep you posted to my progress.

Be well!